Why Is Sustainability Important for Brands Today?

By Sher Warkentin in Thinking Sustainably

A multitude of companies offer natural products, but what does natural actually mean? A clear understanding of what goes into making a product is critical to helping consumers make informed buying decisions. Tom's of Maine Stewardship Manager Julie Sprague shares how the company has spent the last five decades working to create naturally derived, sustainable products and answers the question: why is sustainability important for brands today?

Why Is Sustainability Important for Brands?

Being transparent about what goes into making a product "natural" gives consumers the power to make thoughtful purchasing decisions and enables them to feel confident that their buying habits are helping them live a more natural life.

Tom's of Maine constantly looks for new ways to give back and care for the planet. "The company has always viewed business as a force of good," Sprague says. Tom's of Maine donates 10 percent of product sales to nonprofit organizations working to support health, education, and nature. The company also encourages employees to use 5 percent of their paid time to volunteer for their favorite causes.

These values have always been important to Tom's of Maine, but one company can't do it alone in today's climate. As Sprague says, "The more companies that commit to these practices, the better the world will be with things like more clean water and reduced pollution."

Transparency is key to understanding what's in your products.

Tom's of Maine's Standards for Sustainability

Commitment to sustainability is nothing new for Tom's of Maine. The company has been devoted to natural, sustainable, and responsible practices since its beginning in 1970, as Sprague explains. When company founders Tom and Kate Chappell moved their growing family to Maine in 1968, they looked for personal care products that provided the same benefits as natural, unprocessed foods. Finding none, they decided to make their own.

As more brands began creating products labeled as "natural," it became essential to clarify what makes Tom's of Maine products natural. "The company created the Stewardship Model to provide a transparent definition of what natural means to Tom's of Maine," says Sprague.

The Stewardship Model illustrates the standards Tom's of Maine follows to create naturally derived, sustainable products using responsible practices. Each ingredient goes through a rigorous review process to ensure that it meets these standards. It doesn't merely stop at the ingredients, however. The packaging materials and the product manufacturing are guided by these standards to ensure that sustainability is a driving force at all points.

Environmental sustainability

What Positive Impact Do Natural Brands Make?

Sustainability is a big concept that can sometimes be hard to wrap your head around. Still, there are real, actionable solutions that result from company missions, like the one set out in the Tom's of Maine Stewardship Model. "One of the biggest tangible positive impacts from adopting these practices is the creation of less waste," Sprague explains.

However, minimizing waste isn't just about the packaging; it's also about the process of making the product. When it comes to toothpaste, for example, Sprague explains that reducing waste means looking at how to recycle and reuse both the packaging and the paste. Finding ways to compost toothpaste waste from the manufacturing process is one way the company worked toward zero-waste, as reported by the Fast Company in 2019. More recently, Tom's of Maine has created the first-of-its-kind recyclable toothpaste tube so that the consumer is also left with less waste.

Once the company finds ways to improve, it doesn't stop. As Sprague notes, "Tom's of Maine is always looking to take things further and become better." In 2019, Tom's of Maine became a Certified B Corporation, which means that the company meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. When you see the B Corp symbol on a tube of toothpaste or a bar of soap, you can feel confident that your purchase represents your values and the belief in the importance of environmental sustainability.

How Sustainable Practices Help You

Encouraging environmental sustainability through business practices helps both brands and consumers. As more shoppers who care about the environment and the future are driven to make thoughtful purchases, those decisions can have a lasting impact.

When you choose products from a company committed to these practices, you're really supporting the future, Sprague explains. She notes that one benefit of shopping for sustainable products is that you can say, "I feel good that I'm creating less waste and helping the environment just by making a purchase I planned to do anyway."

Remember that you have the power to do good simply through the products you select as a consumer. Seeking out companies rooted in sustainable practices helps to make those shopping decisions easy.

Want to learn more about the importance of sustainability? Follow the Thinking Sustainably board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

Image Sources: Unsplash | Sher Warkentin | Tom's of Maine

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

When brands adopt sustainable practices, it benefits companies, consumers, and the planet alike. Helping the environment can be as easy as making a purchase you already planned to make.